Sr High UMYF Prayer Lock-In
26 January 2001
What is Prayer?
  We used the acronym ACTS to talk about some of the parts of a complete prayer life.
  • A - Adoration (God, I love You)
  • C - Confession (God, I'm not doing what I should)
  • T - Thanksgiving (God, Thank You for all the blessings in my life)
  • S - Supplication (God, please help me through these problems I'm facing)
Prayer is conversation with God, but it's not quite as simple as having a conversation with a friend, because we don't usually get an audible answer to our prayers.  We have to be aware of where His answers may be found - the Bible, other Christians, the beauty of His creation, etc.

Next we used that old tried-and-true journalistic method of asking the Enhanced Five W's (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and hoW) to examine the topic of prayer.

  We decided that the "Who" is all of us should pray, but we're also thinking about "to Whom"
The to Whom ended up with a nice picture of the Trinity:
  • we pray to the Father
  • in the name of Jesus (the Son)
  • in the power of the Holy Spirit
Of course there's always the about or for whom to pray as well, and that's everyone again.  Then, we got a great acronym: fobu - For Others By Us.  That's one great kind of prayer.
  What can we pray about?
We talked about whether we should bother God with our "little stuff," but then realized that even our "biggest stuff" is still kind of little stuff to Him, so there isn't anything we can't take to God in prayer - awesome!
There was a big list of specific kinds of things we might pray about - most of which fit into our ACTS scheme.
  This was one of our topics at the communion service.
We decided that anytime is fine for prayer, because God is always available, always listening, and always cares.

The other aspect of When is "How often?"
Again, there is no hard and fast rule for everyone, but we thought of it like this:

Suppose you have a friend, but you only talk with him or her very infrequently, and only when things are going wrong - you wouldn't really have much of a relationship with that friend, would you?  That's a good picture of a prayer life that doesn't include regular, frequent prayer.
  Things got really shocking when we decided that anywhere is the where for prayer.
While it can be a good practice to have a regular place for prayer (like at your bedside, at church, at the dinner table), we don't want to make prayer something that can only be done in a particular place (or even in a particular position, like kneeling, hands up, face down, whatever).
God isn't limited to a particular place, so we can talk to Him no matter where we are.
  This was one of our early morning topics (around breakfast).
It really came down to this: if you love someone, you want to have a relationship with him or her; we love God, so we want a relationship with Him.  If you don't talk, share your feelings, say you love your friend, you don't have much of a relationship, so we need to talk to God for just those same reasons.
Not only that, but as Christians, God is the source of our life, our strength, our hope, our joy - how could we possibly not want to spend time with Him when we think of that?!
  The rest of our bagel-time discussions.
In yet another shocking development, we decided that there really is no one right way to pray.  Although this was talked about much earlier in the program, it seems very appropriate to remember that God is our Father.  He's not really interested in the overly formal or fawning prayers (nor even like the Pharisee at the Temple thanking God that he wasn't like other men in very flowery phrases, but essentially talking to himself), he wants us to want to talk with Him.  As the book said - 
When I come home, I do not want my children to meet me in awe and terror, chanting, "Oh, thou great and dreadful Pastor of Peninsula Bible Church, welcome to this unworthy and miserable home."
- from Talking with My Father by Ray C. Stedman
I think what we came down to in all of this is this:
It's not nearly as important how, where, or when you pray as it is why, about what, about whom, or most especially to Whom you pray.  Nike almost has this one right: just do it.
Updated: 13 February 2001